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The Biggest Games We'll Never See

Will Porter uncovers the stories behind the PC's lost games

Some games kick the bucket, others shuffle off their mortal coil and run down the curtain, even more join the bleedin' choir invisible. It's like they're cursed never to see the light of day.


Hives of industrious development-types might busy themselves with painting pictures of exciting new worlds, only for a businessman (in his suit and tie) to turn up one day with a stack of P45s, a megaphone and an unrehearsed speech about a general lack of wonga.

In a world where your average big-name game costs can hit $40million dollars in production, manufacturing and marketing costs it's hardly surprising that occasionally the money to finance making them can dry up.

Other demised games are, more simply, FUBARs of epic proportions. Development nightmares in which the bosses are clueless, the engine unwieldy and year after year of laboured coding slowly becomes a road to nowhere. Still more games just didn't hit the right fun quota and were consigned to the development dustbin, others again were lost in seemingly dull publisher deals and takeovers.

Meanwhile others were aborted because of questionable choices by their developer causing the public to get a bit crank (to put it mildly). Last year saw Rendition: Guantanamo was killed off after Yanks claimed T-Enterprise, its developer, was supporting Osama Bin Laden's lot, while Atomic's Six Days in Fallujah - a planned shooter, set during one of the most controversial military actions of the second Gulf War - caused the developer to fade into nonexistence after Konami backed out of publishing it.

In our life-times, these games are gone - or in perpetual hiatus. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. In some parallel universe where it all went right though - some lucky bugger version of you got to play them all. He's playing the Planescape Trilogy, Carmageddon 8, Populous 9 and Duke Nukem Forever in between grinding his way through the Command & Conquer MMO Continuum - the utter alterno-universe bastard.

So here (nattily dressed up like that Lost TV show people like to torrent) is the rundown on the biggest PC games that we've all missed out on, from the mouths of the creators - the ones who miss them the most...

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VAN BUREN (AKA FALLOUT 3)
Forged in the irradiated offices of Black Isle before parent-publisher Interplay wielded the axe on its most precious possession, Van Buren was the name of Fallout 3 before the license was sold to Bethesda.

Fascinatingly, a fair amount of concepts and content from Van Buren are now being integrated into Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas - where many of the original Black Isle developers are now shacked up.

Caesar's Legion slavers, who in New Vegas are making a mess of the Strip, were first a part of Van Buren - while locations such as the Hoover Dam (in Van Buren an area where you could start a town and populate it with NPCs from elsewhere in the game world) are central in both games.

Van Buren had you awake as a prisoner undergoing analysis by a mysterious AI known as Odysseus, at least a generation after the unconnected events of Fallout 2, and rescued by New California Republic troops who are embroiled in a war with the religious tech warriors of the Brotherhood of Steel.

"Van Buren was built on the same technology we were going to use for Baldur's Gate 3," explains Van Buren's story designer Sean K Reynolds. "You'd have multiple controllable NPCs that you could recruit into your party including a tribal, a Mr Handy in need of repair, a ghoul, and a smart dog. All off them had scripts that would change their behaviour based on what you said to them, what you did, and what other characters joined the group. There was even a way to put a companion NPC's brain into a robot's chassis and have it continue to be in your party - though you'd have to mindwipe it or it would kill you the first chance it got."

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